Strong Start For Serena in Doha
DOHA, Qatar - For the second straight day the top gun of the Maroon Group wrapped up round robin action, and for the second straight day she fell to a Williams. Dinara Safina, the No.2 seed at the Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha 2008, fell to 0-2 in round robin play at the season-ending event on Wednesday, dropping a straight set decision to No.3 seed Serena Williams.
Both players had won four Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles during the regular season - Safina's titles including three Tier Is and Williams' including two Tier Is and a Grand Slam. But after Williams squeaked out the opening set their duel turned into more of a mismatch, with Safina hitting seven doubles faults in the second set alone en route to the 64 61 defeat.
"It was definitely a very fast-paced match; there were lots of winners and not too many long rallies," Williams said. "To win in straight sets will definitely help me in my match tomorrow against Venus. She obviously wants to win every match."
Williams is making her fifth career appearance at the Championships. She is a one-time champion at the event in 2001, and a two-time runner-up in 2002 and 2004. In her only other appearance, which came last year, she injured her left knee during her first round robin match and subsequently withdrew from the tournament. She had also qualified three separate years - 1999, 2000 and 2003 - but withdrew injured before each tournament began with a variety of injuries.
Safina had fallen to the No.7-seeded Venus Williams the day before, 75 63. She is now 0-2 in her round robin group with both losses coming in straight sets, making it unlikely (although not impossible) for her to qualify for the semifinals. At No.2, she is the highest-ranked player ever to make her debut at the season-ending Championships (the previous-highest-ranked debutantes were all ranked No.3).
In the other two matches of the day, Venus Williams rallied past No.5 seed Elena Dementieva, 64 46 63, to improve to 2-0 in the Maroon Group, while No.8 seed Vera Zvonareva beat No.4 seed Ana Ivanovic, 63 67(5) 64, to move to 2-0 in the White Group. Dementieva is now 0-1 this week while Ivanovic is now 0-2.
Round robin action continues on Thursday. No.1 seed Jelena Jankovic faces No.6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the White Group; in the Maroon Group, the Williams sisters will clash while Safina faces Dementieva in an all-Russian contest.